- The same carols we sing in church are played over the loudspeakers of supermarkets and shopping malls.
- The same lessons we read in church are read at Carols by Candlelight events sponsored by local government bodies.
- Nativity scenes are seen in all sorts of non-churchy settings.
- There is a general sense of generosity, hospitality, tolerance, and goodwill in the air, reflecting (if incompletely) the extravagant generosity of God whose self-giving we celebrate at this season.
Under the heading , it continued:
- Christmas or Easter;
- baptisms, weddings, or funerals.
Christmas is a time when Christian churches have a season of opportunity in terms of relating to our wider community, but we rarely grasp the opportunity. I want to make two very practical suggestions for how the church can treat this time as the season of opportunity that it is:
- One denomination is against drinking and gambling;
- Another denomination is against gambling but doesn’t mind if you have a drink;
- A third denomination is not only against gambling and drinking, but it’s also against dancing, wearing make-up, and doing anything on Sunday that isn’t specifically “religious”;
- A fourth denomination doesn’t worry too much about drinking or gambling, but it is against a lot of other things, usually involving bioethics;
- Meanwhile, some people joke about more "liberal" churches like the Anglican and Uniting Churches, because we’re not really against anything, … except the things that everyone is supposed to be against, things like violence, bigotry, and greed, … you know, all the stuff Jesus was against.
- They get their casual at home - a lot more naturally than when the church tries to “do” casual.
- They get their casual from the TV - a lot more naturally than when the church tries to “do” casual.
- They get their casual watching sport - a lot more naturally than when the church tries to “do” casual.
- They get their casual at the pub - a lot more naturally than when the church tries to “do” casual.
- with a bit of style and flair,
- with a bit of dignity and solemnity,
- with a bit of awe and wonder,
- with a bit of mystery and transcendence.
Christmas is a season of opportunity for the Christian church, a time when the church has much in its favour in relating to its wider community. If we want to grasp this opportunity, let’s begin by remembering these two things: